Five questions to… René Sack!

Welcome to the forth episode of the “Five questions to…” column dedicated to IFAC 2019 speakers, while approching the event.

The same five questions will be asked to each speaker and it will be interesting to see how they will answer differently. So, stay tuned on IFAC website and its social accounts!


Five questions to… René Sack

René is a coach from Halle/Saale. His athletes won several national titles and international medals. After a few years as national coach for hammer throw juniors and later discus he is  now head coach for womens discus since January 2017. Beside working as a coach and for the federation he is one of the organisers of Germanys top throws meeting in Halle, where every year more than 500 national and international athletes compete and meet.

At IFAC 2019 he will lead the workshop on “Strength related disciplines & sports”“: come and listen to him in Loughborough!

1) Let’s go back to your early years: how did you become passionate about sport and what was your path to becoming an expert coach?

I always was involved in some kind of sports as long as i can remember. I started playing team handball when i was 5 years old, later i run through the east german classification system and after a few years in a small club in Leipzig i had the chance to train at a special school for sports in Berlin, in 1990 i moved back to Leipzig and joined the special school there because of some insecurities occur in East Germany after 1989. There i worked for more than 15 years to become a world class shot putter, what actually not really happened… but i learned a lot about my sport and athletics in general. Beside my throwing i decided to study at Leipzigs university for sports science. The main goal was to get my old coaches job, when he retires. Due to some circumstances this never happened, but on the exact same day i got rejected, one of my mentors – Gerhard Boettcher –  offered me a job as a coach in Halle. This was in summer 2005. I immediately said yes and had to go all they way from U16 – Athletes up to seniors, where i am now.

Even if coach is a really tough job – especially for your family, with all the times your coming late for dinner, being away from home, don’t see your kids for a while, having late night phone calls with athletes and colleagues – its a job where you always learn, meet people and improve yourself and your knowledge. This is a kind of job, where you have to be passionate about. I think it’s not only a job, maybe a lifestyle too.

2) How do you develop your continuous learning?

First of all, when you work with your own athletes you have the chance to learn a lot, because everybody reacts different to your planning. Then I try to be curious. Watching other athletes and coaches at championships, in camps, try to stay in contact with people I met all around the world and don’t hesitate to ask questions. There is always some kind of sharing going on, when coaches are around at training facilities, hotels or (rarely, sometimes) in pubs…

I love to read all kind of training related books. It doesn’t matter, if new or old ones. I always carry one or two with me, when i am travelling. Podcasts are good resources too – good pastime on my way to work. Online you will find a lot of interesting stuff too (but not the loudest coaches there are the best ones and be aware of so called “training porn”).

3) What technology do you use and how important is the use of technological equipment in your training?

I love to play around with all kinds of new toys and gimmicks. But at the end I use only a few in my work with my athletes. At first a cloud storage system to share plans, calendars, videos and get the protocols. A sensor for measuring the bar speed is useful too – especially in a highly explosive and powerful sport like the throws are. I use this one more as a testing and motivation tool than on a daily basis. Last season I played around with some athlete-monitoring tools. Just because I think, this will give me a way, how adapt my planning and change the training in a way to get the most out of the athletes and avoid maybe some injuries.

Sometimes I use my phone or tablet for some quick video analysis. But not that often. The difficulty here is, not to lose the sight for movements and patterns. I know too much coaches, that can´t coach without having a video anymore.

4) Injuries are often part of the game but some are avoidable: how do you challenge your athletes but still keep them safe?

Injuries shouldn´t be part of the game. But it´s not always easy to avoid them. If the occur, I try to find the reason why this happened. Then I try to fix through better movement patterns, better physical basics, better regeneration management, etc.

Beside this I always try to watch and talk to an athlete, just to see, if we need to change something in our planning, working with movements or loads to see of there is maybe a hint or sign, which probably could lead into an injury.

5) What do you do in your downtime? Do you ever relax and how?

Downtime? What Downtime?

I put away my cellphone and switch of my computer and try to spend quality time with my family as much as possible or try to workout for myself a bit to keep prepared for upcoming tasks.


Thanks to René Sacks!